Writing About History

As I mentioned before, I’m reading Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and it’s fascinating how the choice of words betrays the author’s political engagements. To give an example, Pappe describes the struggle for independence from the British colonialism as “Jewish terrorist attacks.” Of course, any anti-colonialist struggle can be described in such terms. Or it could be described very differently.

Take people who worked on the Underground Railroad, for example. You could say that they helped deprive owners of their property. Or you could call them heroes.

As the old saying goes, when he is on our side, he is an intelligence officer. When he is on the opposing side, he is a spy.

10 thoughts on “Writing About History”

  1. Or, you could just make shit up about people whole cloth, like Clarissa does here on her blog when someone is winning an argument, or if she just doesn’t like what someone is saying. She just declared me a “failed daycare worker” even though I was very successful, and a “failed grad student” and “failed scientist” even though she has no clue about science or about my specific situation. I am doing very well actually, not that it is any business of hers, and it is beyond weird to call a science grad student a “failed scientist”. And it is very nasty to say this on the internet, where anyone can come across it. It is especially disturbing coming from a professor.


    1. This is a discussion of Israel and Palestine, Isabel. Nobody cares about you and your childish grievances in this thread, so please refrain from polluting it.

      I will have to remove your comments if you continue trolling.


      1. OK, Isabel is kicked out for a month for being a stupid prick.

        If she gets better, she can come back on March 31.

        – Clarissa.


  2. A version of that quote that I heard was “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”.
    I still don’t fully grasp the full history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, which I hope I manage to do before I take my birthright trip. I’m reading a graphic novel about grappling with that now, humorously titled “How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less”.


  3. This is a sensitive issue for me, but I think, in this context, there could be a reason for calling it terrorist attacks. In some ways, the tactics were similar to some ones used by current Palestinians, and I think the word choice might be a way to highlight that. I don’t really have a firm stance on the issue, so I don’t want to argue about it or discuss it at length. That’s just an observation. Obviously, there are probably other factors that should be considered. (This is my way of saying, “please don’t hit me even though I expressed a slight disagreement.” As I said, I’m indecisive about the issue, and I can sympathize with many sides of it. And I’m definitely not a fan of colonialism.)


    1. I have problems to see the term colonialism used in this context.

      Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony, and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metropole. Colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the metropole and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population.

      The metropole was the name given to the British metropolitan centre of the British Empire, i.e. the United Kingdom itself. This was even extended, such that London became the metropole of the British Empire

      Jews didn’t have any country, any metropole, and were refugees themselves. Besides, there is a history of Jewish state here.


      1. Now I re-read and may be fract. meant British colonialism, which was colonialism according to every definition, but sometimes the word is used in an expression “Jewish colonialism” too.

        I also see difference between more extreme groups, like Lehi, killing British soldiers and even so called more temperate Palestinians fully celebrating blowing up buses of civilians.



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